Sunday, November 26, 2006

Confession and Contrition


During one of the recent wind storms I had a piece of fiberglass wiggle roofing break off from a roof over my firewood shed. I picked up the fragment from the lawn and it reminded me of another wiggly piece of plastic from my past.

I don’t know how many of you are recovering Catholics out there, but I am and the piece of plastic I was reminded of was the opaque wiggly plastic piece with tiny holed drilled in it. This plastic shield was what kept one anonymous in the confessional of my youth.

Both my mother and my father were Catholic. My father never attended Church; so it was my mother who felt it was her duty to see to it that her children attend, though she was so cynical about it all. As you’ve been reading about my life and opinions over the past few months you can tell the nuts don’t fall far from the tree. I even went to Catholic School which is a funny story for another day.

Anyway, one of the rites of passage in the life of a Catholic youth is First Communion. However, in order for all these seven year old kids to enter the adult Catholic world with this sacrament, they need first to go to confess my sins to a priest.

A confessional is this booth that is divided into sections. One section houses a priest and on the other side of the wall is where the sinners go to kneel and beg for forgiveness for their transgressions. They speak with one another through a piece of opaque plastic with holes in it, or at least that was the way our confessionals looked.

I remember the Saturday of my first confession like it was yesterday. I had been instructed on the protocol of how to behave, and what I should say before and after my confession. My problem was that I was only seven years old, and I was a good kid who hadn’t sinned. The fact that I now had to go to confession every week after inspired me to become a sinner just to keep it all interesting.

Before going to church for my first confession my mother asked if I had anything to confess. I thought about it and in fear I told her that I had nothing to confess and asked what I was going to do? I couldn’t go to confession with nothing to offer. How could I receive penance if I didn’t offer my sins?

My mother came to my aid and said, “Tell the priest that you committed adultery five times.” I had no idea what adultery was, but if my Mother said that’s what I should do…I did it. I trusted her and was too young to understand her cynicism.

When we got home that evening my mother asked how the confession went. I told her I confess the adultery and received a penance of 5 Hail Marys and 5 Our Fathers. I got off easy; some of my other class mates were reciting their penance long after I was finished.
My parents howled with laughter. I didn’t get the joke until a year or so after that. I laughed as well and still do.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the laugh, Guy. My eldest did her first confession and communion last year. It was pretty amusing for us parents to watch them go into the confessional (not as cool as a booth with the separator by the way - Father wants you to sit right in front of him) and time how long each kid was in there. They quickly came out with a big smile and a look of relief on their faces.

But, I am with you - what does a 7 year old have to confess anyway?

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>But, I am with you - what does a 7 year old have to confess anyway?<<

After setting in a both with a priest; let's HOPE nothing.

9:52 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Hopefully they won't have to confess twenty years later in a law suit.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

It's interesting you should mention this, for as you well know of my hippie earth religion leanings, my husband, himself a godless heathen, has recently deigned it necessary to take our eldest to St. Mary. I have mostly gotten over my silent fits of apoplexy for now, as your mother and I would have gotten along swimmingly. Now Eldest is in Reconciliation class. That's right. It's not confession anymore. It's Reconciliation. Newspeak has invaded the One True Church. And the workbooks Eldest brings home are filled with more flowers and less brimstone than the ones I had as a yute.

I LOVE what your mother had to say. However, my daughter is so pious and so verbose that we should pity the priest who gets her the first time. She's gonna think up reasons to be in there for weeks....

"...and then I wouldn't share a My Little Pony with my sister. But it was Minty. And Minty is the Christmas one. She's mint-colored. But not her tail. Her tail is pink. But I would have let my sister use Pinkie-Pie, but she didn't want Pinkie-Pie who is, obviously, pink, but with a darker pink tail. Kind of like a magenta. Anyway..."

1:31 PM  
Blogger Boo7 said...

What a great story Guy....I love it!! Bless your Mom for telling you to say that and you for doing it....I'll just bet your folks both had a good laugh over it....I'm still laughing!!

And lol @ Mom of three and her verbose daughter...too cute!!! I can just picture the priest being regaled with all these stories about her herd of My little Ponies!!

1:51 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

BWAH-ha! Loving the adulterous 7-year-old story; loving just as much the idea of a verbose kid explaining the pony herd. :)

2:41 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Mo3, why is he punishing your daughter? There must be some grand plan beneath it all. I'd be very suspicious. Also the priest may give her extra pennance just for being talkitive,"She want's to talk...500 Hail Marys!

Yes Boo & Mel, my mother is a rascale. I'll have more stories of her in the future.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Amaya said...

Dear Father,
My last confession was more than 10 years ago. It was forced upon me during a retreat (did you ever have to go on one of those Guy?).
My sins? Um, I don't believe in this bullshit.
50 Our Fathers and 50 Hail Mary's? Psh! I've had worse. Not like I'm to say them anyway. I'll go back to the pew and gossip with my friend. Oh, is that a sin? 100 Our Fathers and 100 Hail Mary's? Shit!
Wait! Swearing is a sin too?

You see where this is going...

12:55 PM  
Blogger Zoe said...

I refused to go to conefession until I was in the 8th grade. Then I was more affraid of the the nun I had for a teacher than I was convicted out how ridiculous confession was.

Now, I have this great fantasy about a school girl uniforn and a confessional booth.

2:37 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Ahh ha! Lots of recovering Catholics out there. I don't feel so alone anymore.

Amaya, no retreats for me, thank Jesus Tapdancing Christ for that. I wondered if the priest got off on hearing all those kids confessing that they touched themselves impurely?

Zoe, if you get the documentary Channel, there is one you must watch called "Women in Black" and it talks about sadism in nuns. Pretty funny and sad. It will being back memories. I'll be doing the post on how I ended up in Catholic school next Sunday. You'll want to check in for that. Now about your fantasy...care to share? Your blog or mine ; )

2:47 PM  
Blogger Zoe said...

Really, I need to elaborate more? You can't fill in the fantasy of me (I'll say me because it's my fantasy) and another chick, both in plaid school girl uniforms going at it in a confessional booth. What more do you need? Short plaid shirt, white shirt, tie (very useful), knee high socks, black doc shoes...anything else?

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a recovering Jew. It's a lot like being a recovering Catholic, but my parents weren't nearly so cool.

7:53 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Nope Zoe...That did it ; ) Thanks!

My parents weren't full-time cool. They just had moments of unbelievable coolness. I don't think that being Jewish can remove coolness. I hung out with a lot of Jewish families when I lived back East, and some of my friends parents were way off the chart on the coolness scale.
I really miss hearing Yiddish. Please feel free to use some when commenting. It will touch my heart.

5:45 AM  

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